JROTC Supporters Demand School Board Save Military Program

District tells meeting room packed with cadets, veterans and parents Thursday night that the program is too costly.

JROTC supporters address the Lincoln-Way 210 School Board Thursday night, Feb. 13. | Credit: ABC 7 News
JROTC supporters address the Lincoln-Way 210 School Board Thursday night, Feb. 13. | Credit: ABC 7 News

A standing-room-only crowd filled the meeting room of the Lincoln-Way District 210 school board Thursday night as parents, veterans and JROTC cadets pleaded for the Junior ROTC program's survival.

The Air Force program is at all four high schools in the district, but budget constraints are prompting district administrators to discontinue JROTC. As first reported by Patch in January, the program will be consolidated over the next few years and eliminated entirely by 2018.

See Also: Petitions Started to Save JROTC

"There are 8th graders now that aren't going to be able to do the program," said Emma Albers-Lopez, a sophomore JROTC student. "There are 7th graders, 6th graders, here are kids who are never going to be able to experience this."

District officials say the program's annual cost to the district is $500,000, with the Air Force kicking in an additional $260,000.

"This is not an easy decision to make," Arvid Johnson, Lincoln-Way 210 school board president, told the crowd.

See Also: Students Up in Arms Over Elimination of JROTC
concerned February 15, 2014 at 08:21 AM
I'm sure none of these board members never served their country. They just want to reap the benefits of freedom but are too big of cowards to defend it. They wouldn't be free to waste our tax money without a strong military to defend their fat butts.
SMR February 15, 2014 at 09:15 AM
Couldn't have said it any better Kevin. Dist 210 has ALWAYS been about the kids first and foremost. Hence why enrollment is how it is.
Kathy May February 15, 2014 at 09:20 AM
We need to keep our emotions in check. The AFJROTC program is important and needs to remain part of LW schools. We do not need people attacking the Board members who are volunteers serving our communities. We need to present valid solutions and suggestions in order to keep the program.
Lonny February 15, 2014 at 10:42 AM
You don't have to have been in the military to "serve our country". Some will die for our country; all should make our country worth dying for.
Gary P February 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM
Kevin-The board is doing the right thing. If the ROTC behavior is anything like the comments posted I don't think they deserve any of the special treatment they demand. Even though my property taxes are high I know Lincolnway is still trying to do the right thing by cutting costs, keeping good teachers, keeping programs that will benefit the most students. JRotc does not fall in that category. instructor to student ratio of 1-11 compared to 1-24 for the rest of the classes speaks for itself. I know school board member is a thankless job, my Dad was on a school board for 25 years and worked tirelessly to improve student academics and to keep costs under budget. Keep strong, you're doing the right thing.
Edward Krieger February 15, 2014 at 11:44 AM
Kevin, is there a liability issue about volunteers in the community working with the kids for these programs. We have people from all walks of life in the Lincoln way community. I'm sure there are veterans, trades people, engineers, lawyers, in our community who would be willing to put time in to help the schools with JROTC building trades programs, math labs and reading labs?
concerned February 15, 2014 at 03:32 PM
Lonny you remarks are spoken like a true coward.
Edith L February 15, 2014 at 04:50 PM
First and foremost everyone needs to realize that this is not an extra-curriculum class. This is a class which teaches aerospace, astronomy among other topics. Getting rid of a class which is never talked about in the school or community because the numbers of students are than a math class. My question is how would parents feel if the School Board got rid of Algebra because they say there is not enough money. This class is paid for by your Federal Tax dollars that are taken out of you pay check. I do not know of anything that our Federal Tax dollars go to without being discriminatory to anyone. I also know that the salaries that the instructors are receiving are less pay than other teachers who have the same education. Our Federal Tax dollars also pay for all of the text books, curriculum guides, uniforms, flags, and drill team equipment. Our property tax only pays a small portion of this class. Our property tax does pay for a lot of sports and clubs in the school. My concern is why a sport (extra-curriculum) is more important than an Educational Class which allow most students to either get a scholarship to college or if they go into the military pass boot camp they are paid two grades ahead of everyone else that did not take JROTC. So to me the school board and the school administration are hurting the success of our students. We the parents have given many suggestions and the superintendent decided not to listen. I do have to say I am sadden that the school board will not allow the incoming freshman into the program and than finish figuring the problem out, because we still have to pay the instructors might as well make them work for their money.
Paulette Sherman February 15, 2014 at 04:50 PM
I don't disagree that there are cuts that need to be made. Our point is that we are willing to take a large cut. The Air Force does have certain regulations in place. If the students were required to travel, and were willing to do so, would that be terribly problematic? Students currently travel for all kinds of classes and activities. Cuts need to be made. Nobody is disagreeing. We are simply saying that cutting us by $250,000 and allowing us to continue is a better plan than eliminating the program. We are all here because we believe that the $250,000 the district would continue to spend is worth it. Lots of cuts have been made, and lots more will continue to be made. We are simply asking the board to keep in mind the contributions this program makes to the community. There are still some alternatives available, like creating an activity fee. Right now just 11% of the district is considered low income. Something along those lines could raise a significant amount of money.
formerjolietjen February 15, 2014 at 06:41 PM
It's unfortunate schools have to cut any program. I was not in ROTC, but had many friends who were. Many of those friends are highly successful adults and credit the program for part of that success. I hope classes like vinyl sign making which was a class when I was in school is no more. The school district my children attend was in a financial dilemma a few years ago. They were going to cut out art and music from the whole district. Well guess what? We still have art and music, we just no longer have a football team. You'll never catch a suburban school getting rid of a sport! I'm not saying get rid of the football team, but there are many sports to take up and learn sportsmanship if you dropped a sport. But there is no other class to make up the life skills taught in ROTC.
local guy February 15, 2014 at 06:48 PM
Sorry about all the ignorant morons making comments Kevin. Most people do realize that you are volunteering to do a thankless and difficult job. Ignore the idiots!
Mary poppins February 15, 2014 at 06:56 PM
Wow... The only ones being rude and ignorant are the ones willing to let the program go. I guess maybe if Gary and local guy took ROTC they would of learned about making a comment without being disrespectful. Most of the comments were voicing concern about the losing a important program in the school and other cuts they thought should be made first or ways to maybe provide funds. Ignorance is only on those who call others names because they have no other way to communicate.
Edith L February 15, 2014 at 06:57 PM
I understand that the school board is an elected position and that they do not get paid. I am mad at the school board because they are not or do not want to listen to the community which has elected them to their position. I wish the board would tell us more in depth as to why extra-curriculum activities are more important than an EDUCATIONAL CLASS.
lala February 15, 2014 at 07:45 PM
Mr. Molloy - my comment about remembering this at election time is aimed at the Gov. Quinn's and all the greedy Illinois politicians not anyone on the board.
Tiffany Albers-Lopez February 15, 2014 at 08:39 PM
Tiffany Albers-Lopez February 15, 2014 at 08:40 PM
And that is why we are a family. Even if we're not from the same school.
Eric Blair February 15, 2014 at 08:47 PM
The chickens are coming home to roost. This is what occurs when the electorate chooses to remain ignorant and unthinking. The money involved in this case probably equals around one interest payment on the 225 million$ bond deal owed directly and indirectly to Wall Street banks. The principal hasn’t been touched. Your houses are the collateral. The overcrowding problem could have been solved with much less, too late now. The money stolen and wasted by “our” military with full approval and cooperation from “our” congress should outrage us Americans but the ones pointing this out are ridiculed. This whole “military, industrial, government” racket is totally criminal, in fact the RICO Act specifically excludes government from any prosecution under this legislation even though it’s government that routinely violates every aspect of the law. Over a trillion$ blown and STOLEN in the useless Mideast occupations for absolutely no benefit to our country despite the lies constantly coming from the controlled media owned and controlled by the very beneficiaries of the “military industrial” complex gang. Books have been written documenting massive government waste but the American people for the most part would prefer to watch TV than to even mildly protest. While these cuts to our domestic programs are accelerating free money to Israel has been greatly increased by “our” treasonous congress, where’s the outrage? The ramifications to the American people due to their willful ignorance are only beginning. You should have been paying attention the last 20+ years. The Lincoln-Way community is not an island. Now it’s time to pay. Get used to it. Your country is being looted right in front of you. Start paying attention.
Edward Krieger February 15, 2014 at 09:46 PM
I don't think anyone is saying the programs being cut are not important. No one wants to cut educational programs. We all can agree on this. We also can all agree that the state and federal government have squandered our money. Our local volunteers have been given a limited budget and they have to prioritize between math teachers or after school activities. All school programs are important otherwise they wouldn't have been funded to begin with. How do we get our state to pay their bills on time? We need to start petitioning our government. This is our government not a separate entity and it's our responsibility to volunteer and put in the time to change what we have the power to change.
Paulette Sherman February 15, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Mr. Molloy, I would just like to take a moment to address your comments. I do not agree with everything everyone has said on here, but I do agree that the program should be spared. Having said that, I would like to say that I think as an elected official your attitude toward the voting public is a poor one. I know it seems like you are being personally attacked when people call to revoke your salary, but its important to keep perspective. You have a very large group of people that are upset about losing AFJROTC. I don't think any of those people claim to be experts in local governance or school funding. They do know that when they are upset about how their 100 million dollars is being spent, that ultimately it is the school board deciding how to spend those funds. Maybe give people a break. I was previously an elected official; I was a member of the county board. I found that during that time I spent most of my time explaining to people what I do and don't have control over. In the state of Illinois we have more layers of government than any state in the union. Between library boards, park district boards, forest preserve districts, etc. It is difficult to fault anyone for not fully understanding. I always tried to see myself as an intermediary. After all, that's what the people elect you to be. When people are angry and knocking at your door, that means its time to have a thoughtful conversation with the voters. Explain to them what you do control and what you don't control. Tell them how you arrived at your decision and whenever possible, point them in the right direction to help them resolve their problem. Just saying blame the state is not helpful. Maybe saying listen, we were are owed x amount of dollars by the state, that gives us a budget shortfall of y. We closed the gap by eliminating a, b, and c. I am not trying to be argumentative, but just offer a little perspective. Frank did not know you weren't paid and I cannot blame him. I've been involved in local politics for over a decade and I'm still always learning new things. Just remember, even though you are not compensated monetarily, you work for Frank and every other member of the voting public. When they're calling for your job, sometimes a conversation goes a lot further than an insult.
local guy February 15, 2014 at 10:34 PM
Served three years in the army mary poppins. Good enough for you?
Mary poppins February 15, 2014 at 10:43 PM
Not enough to be an ass and insult others. I have family that is serving and retired. There are others on here who are the same. No one is being rude but the two of you. Free country allows everyone the right to voice their opinions. So if you would like to say something with some intelligence instead of insulting maybe someone will listen.
Tiffany Albers-Lopez February 15, 2014 at 11:34 PM
I would like everyone to recognize that this is not an after school program. This is a class and a family.
Jay February 16, 2014 at 01:11 AM
I cannot believe this is even a problem. There is 16 of these programs In Illinois and LW had 4 of them. I guess 400+ Schools had it wrong? This saves the district a ton a ton of money, and when was the last time time 5,000 plus people should up for a ROTC event ever Friday like they do for sporting events? So stop talking about eliminating sport like football etc... Because that's just dumb. In hard times, hard choices have to be made. Only 400 out of 6000 kids are in this program. It's a simple cut to make. It's simple Math to make people. It no ones fault but some things have to done. There are just as many non ROTC kids that just as many hours back to the community at LW schools as ROTC schools do. I never served, I thought my time in college was better severed to my life. But my dad, brother, bro in law, and all uncles all did serve. And everyone was not ROTC student and all agree this needs to be done. Now all those people were students of the military school at West Point so maybe a different type of student. But all in the past weeks have stated that it's no big deal. Kids who want to serve will and a class at LW will make no difference. Last ill state the same thing I did in the beginning. This is simple math. Something has to go, and this make sense. The kids choose between PE and ROTC. 400 pick ROTC and 5400 pick PE.
Tiffany Albers-Lopez February 16, 2014 at 08:39 AM
What saves the district more money? The $500,000 from cutting this program entirely or the $2.5 million by charging an activities fee? I know I wouldn't appreciate if they schools cut the sports. They are just as important. BUT what about an activities fee? 2.5 million is a lot.
Tiffany Albers-Lopez February 16, 2014 at 08:40 AM
Reduction in JROTC Units vs. Program Elimination Current Expenditures for the program are at approximately $500,000. Reducing to two units would allow all 472 cadets currently enrolled in the program to still fully participate, it would allow new freshmen to enroll, and for the program to continue uninterrupted at a cost savings of approximately $250,000. By maintaining 1 instructor at each school, the need for traveling during the day could be eliminated. Combining the units would result in students needing only to travel for extracurricular activities after school. This program was founded in 1996 and operated as one unit at 2 schools successfully for nearly a decade. JROTC is not simply a 50 minute class for most of its participants. JROTC provides after school extracurricular activities to over 200 students. Currently students can participate in drill team, rifle team, color guard, supply, Kitty Hawk Air Society, Academy of Model Aeronautics, Saber Team, Academic Bowl, Cyber Patriot, Model Rocket Club, summer leadership school, and many more groups and programs sponsored by JROTC. The drill teams alone have a combined participation of more than 125 members. JROTC provides nearly 4,000 hours of community service each year. The program provides opportunities for dozens of students to participate in leadership roles, such as element leaders, flight commanders, squadron commanders drill team commanders, group commanders, Officers in Charge, etc. All of the program materials, uniforms, etc. are provided free of charge by the United States Air Force The salary of the instructors are subsidized by the Air Force who pay nearly 50%. The instructors are currently NOT compensated for providing extracurricular activities to the students, but do so anyway. Recognizing the tremendous impact this program has on its 472 participants, the impact those 472 cadets have on the community, and the massive savings that can be realized without any impact on the program; combining AFJROTC to 2 units should be an easy decision.
Jay February 16, 2014 at 07:35 PM
Tiffany, it sound like a good idea, but if you apply an activity fee, the next argument is "why does my kid have to pay $500 for this and kids playing football or basketball don't? " I'll state again this needs to happen for money reasons, and I do feel bad. I have lived this area for 32 years, and since 1996 I have never witnessed much from this program, not saying they didn't contribute but I have seen other programs more visible in the community. In 4 years no one will miss this, just like when they cut other programs. Out of sight out of mind. Just like in business sometimes the for the betterment of the group some must sacrifice. And this will help the group in the long run.
Frank Zeimetz February 16, 2014 at 07:50 PM
Maybe Jay should have opened his eyes in the last 32 years...
Deb Jones February 16, 2014 at 10:50 PM
Frank Zeimetz February 18, 2014 at 02:41 AM
Props to Paulette. For Mr. Malloy, where was your side of the story at the board meeting? The board had nothing to say. They didn't even want to hear what the public they represent had to say. You went along business as usual. Maybe if you included the public we could help you work out some of your problems. People could brainstorm ideas and use their imaginations to solve the problems of the community. I don't like people being put out of work, I don't want to see trade programs go away. I would like to see solutions that are win win for everyone. What I don't want to see is more vacant space in a over populated and under staffed school. By cutting programs lincoln way is failing it's own mission statement, and I believe that to be unacceptable.
Deb Jones February 18, 2014 at 08:01 PM
This is written as a parent of a current Lincoln-Way senior & an incoming freshman who would like to have had the choice to join JROTC. We went to the "Class of 2018 Open House" and listened to person after person informing us how wonderful Lincoln-Way schools are because they offer so many choices. Please do not misunderstand me I believe LWHSD 210 is a very wonderful school district, otherwise we would not have bought our house in the district. I am also not planning on moving my children to a different district because of these cuts. I do plan on having a conversation with my elected state officials, especially those who ran or run on the platform to improve the way the state of Illinois funds it's school districts. If the problem is the state of Illinois's lack of funding why suggest we contact the federal government or USAF? We should be demanding our local elected officials pay the bills & balance the budget just like every voter is expected to do and usually does. Mr. Molloy & school board in general, I as a parent do not wish to see any program eliminated be it a sports, clubs, or classes. By eliminating any of them you directly impact the students because you LIMIT their choices. However, I understand cuts must be made, I just hope we can find a better way to do so and still allow students the same opportunities as before. By allowing students choices they learn what have to struggle in, what comes easy to them, how they learn the best, what they enjoy & what they do not enjoy; but furthermore, by not allowing choices you are limiting their discovery of who they are to become. I would prefer my children to have a slight clue as to who they want to become before I receive the bill for college tuition, it does get very costly when they change their mind every semester or year. So if at all possible would you please open the lines of communication. You have been given many choices and I know they are plenty of more out there, let people know what will not work, what will work & together we can find that middle ground. That goes for all the programs that are to be eliminated due to budget cuts. To Jay I hope you know that ROTC is in colleges/universities JROTC is in high schools. Yes there are 16 AFJROTC in IL, but the is 46 AJROTC and 15 NJROTC in the state of Illinois and that is not to mention the ROTCs within the state of Illinois.


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